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Two Saudi journalists being held in asylum centre after being outed as gay by government for contact with foreign media

Patrick Kelleher November 18, 2019
Gay journalists Saudi Arabia asylum

JOSE CABEZAS/AFP via Getty

Two gay journalists from Saudi Arabia are being detained in an asylum centre in Australia after they were outed by the government in their home country and forced to flee.

The men – who have not been named – believe they were outed by Saudi state security and had their romantic relationship revealed to family over contact with foreign media.

As homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia, the men fled their home country and sought asylum in Australia, but they have been held in a detention centre since, Reuters reports.

One of the men, who has worked with CNN, the BBC and the Saudi media ministry, told the news outlet that they were outed as gay to his partner’s family in September.

The gay journalists are in ‘an impossible situation’ as they are detailed in Australian asylum centre.

The men’s lawyer Alison Battisson said they went through passport control in Australia when they arrived in Australia over a month ago. They were taken to the detention centre after they said they intended to seek asylum.

All the things – except death and torture – that they feared in Saudi Arabia came true in Australia.

Battison said that the men could have lived and worked as normal while their asylum application was being processed if they had been allowed to submit a protection application.

“All the things – except death and torture – that they feared in Saudi Arabia came true in Australia,” Battison said.

“They’re in an impossible situation.”

One of the men is currently still in the centre and the other is in hospital under guard where he is being treated for tuberculosis.

The men were reportedly outed over contact with Canadian journalists.

The men’s outing was apparently linked to the arrival of two reporters from Canadian public broadcaster CBC in Saudi Arabia. One of the detained men facilitated their entry visas and scheduled interviews for them. They went on to meet two Saudi dissidents who were arrested at a later stage.

One of the men said he was questioned by the Presidency of State Security in September of last year over the visit of the two Canadian journalists. He was reportedly asked about his relationship with his partner at the time and was told that his “secret” would be revealed if he didn’t stop working with foreign media.

The men believe that state security told his partner’s family about their sexuality and nature of their relationship in September of this year. They said they would get police and tribal leaders involved, which encouraged the men to flee.

The man said that they had been put in a situation where they “had to leave because it got to be too dangerous.”

More: asylum seeker, Australia, Gay, LGBT, refugee, Saudi Arabia

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